Pakistan on Thursday offered Tajikistan access to its warm water ports of Karachi and Gwadar – part of CPEC – as it reiterated resolve to revive the cross-border power transmission project.
This was discussed during a metting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Council meeting in Samarkand on Thursday.
Shehbaz was accompanied by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and other officials and diplomatic staff.
An official readout of the meeting issued by the Prime Minister’s Office read that the two leaders held wide-ranging talks covering all aspects of the mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation including regional and international issues.
During the meeting President Rahmon extended his sympathies and condolences over the loss of precious human lives and the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan.
He assured Shehbaz of Tajikistan’s full support in efforts for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.
Shehbaz thanked Tajikistan for its support and shared details of the devastation caused by the massive floods.
Both, Prime Minister Shehbaz and President Rahmon expressed their satisfaction over the growing political, trade, economic, and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
They underscored the need for a strategic partnership aimed at boosting security, mutual trust, countering the current global threats and challenges, enhancing regional stability, and expanding political, trade and economic cooperation.
Both leaders accorded particular focus on further strengthening of reliable and constructive high-level contacts, inter-parliamentary ties, defence and security relations between the two countries.
Shehbaz underlined the importance of regular meetings of bilateral institutional mechanisms.
Energy and trade links
Emphasizing the establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation in the implementation of energy projects, Shehbaz reiterated Pakistan’s resolve for the timely completion of the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA) 1000 power transmission project.
The $1.16 billion and 1,300 megawatt power project was conceived as a power corridor to supply excess hydroelectricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and then Pakistan.
Ground was broken for the project in 2016 and was expected to be completed by 2023
Invitation to join CPEC?
Pakistan is pressing ahead with the construction of a cross-country road network with China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will make Pakistan’s sea ports accessible to landlocked regional friends.
Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasized the expansion of cooperation in the field of road transportation and underscored the importance of connectivity.
In this regard, he pointed to Pakistan’s readiness to facilitate access to ports in Gwadar and Karachi for Tajikistan’s traders.
Shehbaz and Rahmon exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
They agreed to work together to strengthen peace, stability and security in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
The two leaders also agreed to remain in close contact.
Shehbaz invited President Rahmon to visit Pakistan, while the latter also replied in kind.
Are Pakistan and Tajikistan neighbors?
Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by the 16 kilometer wide Wakhan Corridor – a narrow stretch of land in the northeast of Afghanistan that stretches to China.
It separates the Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest of Pakistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan.